With well-groomed trails and temperatures just right, a pair of records fell at the 18th annual Carbon Hill Sled Dog Race on Saturday at the Mount Lorne Community Centre.
For the first time in the race’s history the Canadian Rangers and Junior Rangers helped prepare the trails. And the dogs were in heaven with temperatures hovering just below minus 20 Celsius as 48 sled and skijor teams participated in the event.
“The trails were awesome and the temperature was good – the dogs took off like rockets,” said musher Dave Johnson. “The Rangers did the trails this year and they did a really nice job on it. They widened some of the tight spots there.”
Competing in the 10-mile dogsled race, Johnson came first with a time of 30 minutes and 36 seconds, breaking his own course record from 2006.
Johnson, who won both of the Yukon Brewing Twister Series races so far this season, was supposed to be competing at races in Alberta that were postponed because of a lack of snow. But he didn’t seem to mind.
“The Carbon Hill (race) is always awesome,” said Johnson. “It’s always well attended and it’s one of the best local races.”
Narrowly taking second was Meagan Grabowski at 34:32 followed closely by Armin Johnson at 34:35 in third.
The 30-mile skijor record was the other to fall.
Stefan Wackerhagen improved on the record time he set last year, coming in at 2:46:55, shaving almost six minutes off his 2011 time.
Wackerhagen, who was running just two dogs in the two-to-four dog category, was less thrilled with the conditions.
“It was OK for the dogs, but I would have preferred a little bit warmer weather and less wind, of course, because the trail was blown in,” said Wackerhagen, the only skijorer to finish in last year’s River Runner 100 race. “The trail was not as slow as I thought when I woke up this morning. Most of it was good but the lake was really slow … it gets sticky for skis when it’s blown in.”
Taking second was Claudia Wichert at 2:49:07 – a time faster than last year’s record – followed by Jonathan Lucas with a time of 2:57:27.
Normand Casavant also made it two in a row, placing first in the 30-mile dogsled for a second year.
Though he shaved almost 25 minutes off his time from last year, completing the journey in 2:17:55, he was still 8:09 from Brian MacDougall’s course record set in 2003.
“I had a real good race out there; my dogs were real fast,” said Casavant, who took second in last year’s River Runner 100 race. “The dogs were amazing today. First, they were all happy and that makes a big difference.
“On my way (out) I was not sure because I wanted to catch my friend Luke Tweddell … I caught him two miles from here on the McConnell Lake and I was so happy.
“So he said to me, ‘It’s not that good to see you.’”
Second place’s Blaine Walden, the 2006 winner of the race, came in at 2:32:23. In third was Tweddell at 2:39:18.
Trading her sled for skis and poles, Kyla Johnson was first in the six-mile skijor race, crossing the finish line at 23:21. She took fifth in last year’s 30-mile dogsled category.
Moving up two spots in the standings from 2011, Christel Bartczak finished second at 24:54, ahead of Amil Dupuis-Ross at 26:55.
Abby Cruikshank was tops in the two-mile junior dogsled event with a time of 9:35, beating last year’s winner, Seth Carey, who was second at 11:17. Fionnuala Marion snagged third at 13:2.1
Adelaide Fitzgerald won the 200-metre kids’ dogsled event, cruising in at 39 seconds. In second was Mackenzie Keefer, followed by Orion Cruikshank in third.
“The reason for the fast race was two-fold,” wrote race executive Paul Matheus in an email to the News. “First, the dogs run well in cold, cloudy weather because they don’t overheat. Second, these were probably the best groomed trails we had in the race’s 18 years, due to the work of the Rangers.”
“The volunteers are always out there, asking if you need anything,” said Dave Johnson. “And they always put on an awesome potluck – there’s tons of stuff to eat.
“We always enjoy it. We don’t get there very often because we’re always on the road so much, but whenever we’re in town I always try to make the Carbon Hill.”
30 – mile dogsled (6-8 dogs)
1st Normand Casavant – 2:17:55
2nd Blaine Walden – 2:32:23
3rd Luke Tweddell – 2:39:18
4th Rene Lapierre – 2:42:30
5th Julien Rouget – 2:52:01
6th Alexandra Rochat – 2:52:27
7th Marcelle Fressineau – 3:02:15
8th Christiane Champeral – 3:15:35
9th Steve Gibbons – 3:17:19
10th Olaf Thurau – 3:20:04
11th Diana Thurau – 3:26:29
12th Brian Alp – 3:56:47
30-mile skijor (2-4 dogs)
1st Stefan Wackerhagen – 2:46:55
2nd Claudia Wichert – 2:49:07
3rd Jonathan Lucas – 2:57:27
4th Amelie Janin – 3:34:25
5th Cynthia Corrveau – scratch
10–mile dogsled (4-6 dogs)
1st Dave Johnson – 30:36
2nd Meagan Grabowski – 34:32
3rd Armin Johnson – 34:35
4th Susie Rogan – 34:55
5th Deb Knight – 36:18
6th Petra Hachhuber – 36:22
7th Marine Gastard – 38:45
8th Gaetan Pierrard – 39:10
9th Julie Dessureault – 41:43
10th Fabian Schuitz – 43:45
11th Bevon Keefer – 44:07
12th Melissa Schenke – 45:10
13th Bali Symenuk – 46:54
14th Sophie Firmenich – 48:09
15th Erin Stevens – 49:41
16th Maren Bradley – 52:50
Six-mile skijor (2-4 dogs)
1st Kyla Johnson – 23:21
2nd Christel Bartczak – 24:54
3rd Amil Dupuis-Ross – 26:55
4th Karen McKenna – 26:59
5th Will van Randen – 33:39
6th Barb Anderson – 34:14
Two–mile junior dogsled (2-3 dogs)
1st Abby Cruikshank – 9:35
2nd Seth Carey – 11:17
3rd Fionnuala Marion – 13:21
200-metre kids’ dogsled (1 dog)
1st Adelaide Fitzgerald – 0:39
2nd Mackenzie Keefer – 0:50
3rd Orion Cruikshank – 1:02
4th Ruby Gill – 1:04
5th Charlie Gill – 1:47
6th Haley Taylor – 2:15
6th Sarah Fitzgerald – 2:15
Contact Tom Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org